On 26 July 2019, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgement in HKSAR v Wong Cho Sing and 6 others [2019] HKCA 839.

Following a trial before His Honour Judge Dufton on 17 February 2017, the 7 police officers were jointly convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm against Tsang Kin Chiu (“Tsang“) on 15 October 2014 outside Lung Wo Road Government Building Pump Station East Substation in Admiralty during the “Occupy Central” incident.  D5 alone was convicted of a charge of common assault against Tsang at a later time on the same day at the Central Police Station.  The 7 police officers all appealed against both conviction and sentence.

The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal against conviction of D4 and D7 as there was an absence of identification evidence against these defendants. The Court of Appeal took the view that the judge’s own purported identification of D4 was not based on sufficiently cogent material and cannot form the the source of further identification.  In the case of D7, the Court of Appeal held the evidence relied on was too tenuous to link him to the assault at the Substation.

As to the appeal against sentence in relation to the remaining 5 police officers, the Court of Appeal held as a matter of principle that offences of this type “must be visited with an immediate sentence of imprisonment“.  However, it was held that the starting point of 30 months’ imprisonment adopted by the judge was manifestly excessive.  The Court of Appeal therefore substituted starting points of 21 months’ imprisonment for D3, D5 and D6.  In respect of D1 and D2, being senior officers who lend their approval and authority to subordinates to commit the offence when it lay within their power to stop them, the Court of Appeal substituted a higher starting point of 24 months.   Each of those sentences are reduced by 6 months as originally ordered by the judge.

Clive Grossman SC (with Tim Owen QC) leading Benson Tsoi appeared for the 1st Appellant, instructed by Kwok, Ng & Chan.

The full judgment is available here.